Qasem Soleimani: UK urges calm after US kills Iran's top general" width="976" height="549">
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab released a statement after the incident in Iraq
The UK government has "urged all parties to de-escalate" after the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US air strike in Iraq.He was killed on Friday in a strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK "recognised the aggressive threat" Gen Soleimani posed, but "further conflict is in none of our interests". Jeremy Corbyn said the "US assassination" was an "extremely serious and dangerous escalation".The Labour leader said the UK "should urge restraint" from both Iran and the US and called for the government to "stand up to the belligerent actions and rhetoric coming from the United States".
He added: "All countries in the region and beyond should seek to ratchet down the tensions to avoid deepening conflict, which can only bring further misery to the region, 17 years on from the disastrous invasion of Iraq."
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There are currently around 400 British troops deployed in the Middle East, according to the Ministry of Defence, with around 400 personnel based in Iraq - where the strike took place.The troops in Iraq are there to train Iraqi forces tackling an Islamic State insurgency. BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said he did not think the UK was given any indication the air strike was going to take place, adding: "My sense is this has caught the British government largely by surprise."The killing of Gen Soleimani marks a major escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "severe revenge awaits the criminals" behind the attack, but a statement from the Pentagon said Gen Soleimani "was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region".Mr Raab is due to speak to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the incident, sources say.
'We need to engage'
The acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, said Iran was governed by "a brutal regime", but accused President Trump of "yet again radically and recklessly escalated tensions in an area where peace-keeping was already on a knife edge".He called for an immediate statement from Boris Johnson about the UK's position, adding: "The UK should not automatically follow whatever position the Trump administration takes, but work with a broader group of concerned states at the United Nations."Other UK MPs have been reacting to the incident on Twitter. Labour's Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer echoed the government's statement, calling on those involved to "de-escalate tensions and prevent further conflict", adding: "We need to engage, not isolate Iran."Green Party MP Caroline Lucas called for the UK government to condemn the killing and "work with colleagues in the US to counter Trump's reckless and dangerous foreign policy". And the deputy leader of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party, Stephen Farry, said it was "time for cooler heads". The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has warned all British nationals to avoid any rallies, marches, or processions in Iran over the three days of national mourning the country has called for Gen Soleimani.
Qasem Soleimani
Jeremy Corbyn
Donald Trump
United States
Dominic Raab
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